So we have these four stereo types of leaders who are in operation during times of change: the Radicals, the Reformers, the Bureaucrats, and the Opportunists. All of these leaders agree something needs to change. Each grouping has its strengths and weaknesses. No one is better than another. They simply value different things.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about go back and read Part One by clicking here.
For any system change to go smoothly all four types of leaders need to be on board in the movement. Without the Bureaucrats and Reformers the movement doesn’t have the support of existing structures behind it. Without the Opportunists and Radicals there is no call to change the status quo. Without the Radicals and Reformers there is no ideal to rally around; and without the Bureaucrats and Opportunists the ideal is never grounded in reality. The key to successfully changing things is getting all four types of leaders productively participating in the conversation around the same idea, while accepting that they are going to be part of the movement for different reasons.
This is tough because the stereotypes tend to inflame one another. For example, the Radicals are inflamed by the Bureaucrats for their love of the status quo and the Bureaucrats are driven crazy by the Radicals for their desire to toss everything out and start fresh.
Pondering the Forest
As I read leaders in the Missional conversation I see all these stereotypes working over time. Opportunists are co-opting the word Missional to encourage their existing stuff. Bureaucrats are struggling to explain how their corner of the Kingdom has always been missional. Reformers are seeking to implement the ideas of Missional into their existing structures (the both/and conversation comes to mind); and Radicals are busy telling everyone else we need to all burn the house down and start from scratch. It’s an exciting time to be around.
I have no idea where all of this is headed; nor would I even venture a prediction. I have no suggestion for a simple easy definition of Missional others could use; nor do I know how to “unite the clans” (to quote some Braveheart). I mean, common…I’m only 32 and this is my first time to the ball. I am troubled though by national level leaders seeming inability to rally around a solid, easy, and sticky definition of what it means to be missional. I take comfort though in the knowledge that God is responsible for His bride and will make it all work out in the end.
Pondering My Little Tree
Reflecting on the different stereo types of leaders I’ve realized that they exist on the micro level as well. The people I live in community with also fall into this spectrum. This has been a productive realization for me in many ways.
- As a leader that far to often falls into the Radical category, understanding how open vs. closed or ideal vs. self people I work with are is incredibly helpful. It encourages me not take every criticism personally; and it helps me understand the motivations and context of others which in turn empowers our work together.
- I recognize that not everyone has an urge to start fresh like I do and that is okay. As a young leader I see that I need to respect the Bureaucrats and Reformers love for existing structures.
- Finally, I see that to be successful I need to be able to condense my thoughts on living missionally into a short, memorable statement that people from all four categories can embrace and use in their own context.
I’ve been coaching/teaching a small team of leaders about the missional life. Those leaders have pushed me to diligently work on a simple phrase that conveys the missional life.
But this post is growing to long so I will share the phrase next time…